Is That My Dad?

“Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokeness” is available for pre-order on Amazon”

From my latest The Clarion-Ledger Column…

So, I had this car accident. It was quite traumatic. There was no blood or broken bones, but still, it was a bit frightening. But thankfully, I am ok. At least where that wreck was concerned. I was sixteen at the time, so it has been a few years ago since all that happened.

But if you want to talk about an ongoing wreck, I have that covered too. Over the last couple of months, I’ve struggled with stress and anxiety. Some of it has been self-inflicted; some of it just comes with the territory of being a husband, father, and preacher. In full vulnerability mode, I sort of feel like a ping-pong ball in a speed match between Olympic caliber players. How’s that for turning a phrase?

But it’s true. I am not even close to being a professional counselor, but I would be quick to tell you that feelings are subjective. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel them anyway. It doesn’t mean our feelings are somehow without power. Not in the least.

In my ping-pong ball persona, I often feel ineffective and powerless to change things. Consequently, there are times I allow circumstances, situations, and even people tosteal my joy and zest for living. But all that is another story we will get to in a moment.

In the meantime, I had a wreck. It wasn’t my first nor would it be my last. Full disclosure would tell you I had my first accident while Dad was teaching me to drive (you can laugh if you want to, but that mailbox was alive–I know it jumped in front of me).  But the accident I am referring to was a two-vehicle sideswipe in a curve on a narrow gravel road. The other guy was in my lane, and while I had nowhere to go, he was able to maneuver a bit and ended up in the trees on the other side of the road. Now if I had the freedom to embellish the story, I’d tell you there was loud sounds of rendering metal—shrieks even born of torn steel. I’d tell you about the clouds of billowing smoke and the sounds of destroyed engines still ticking from the heat of their combustion. Fortunately, while I had a wreck, there is no need for any Hollywood special effects. The real fireworks happened in the aftermath.

Like I said, I was sixteen. Dad had been down this road (literally and figuratively) with me before. Accidents were not uncharted territory. But the other guy, a grown man, got a bit ugly and demeaning with unnecessary and untrue recriminations. He tried very hard to pass the whole thing off as my fault alone. He played to my dad’s experience as another older guy. He played to the fact that I was only sixteen and quite possible an idiot who had no idea what I was talking about. Hey. I was sixteen. Idiot was my first and middle name. But that’s beside the point. All these years later, I have no reason to lie, no new confession to make. I have nothing to, as my Dad would say, ‘fess up” about. This one time I was truly innocent and I think my Dad recognized it.

In the verbal confrontation that followed, I’ll never forget the moment Dad had had enough. With blazing eyes and steel in his voice, my father stood and said, “that’s it, we are done.” The other guy was rendered speechless by the way Dad ended it. So was I, and as we left, I was completely bumfuzzled (yes, that is a word. I ought to know, because I made it up).  In what had to be a minor miracle, Dad grew at least two foot taller in an instant!

Although it was a long, long time ago, I’ll never forget the way Dad stood up for me that day. I wasn’t quite yet the prodigal son I would one day become, but Dad’s strength would serve me well more than once in my life.

Even now, my father is still here. Both of them. Yes, I claim two Father’s. Earthly dad; Heavenly Father. They are both such strong towers.  Proverbs 18:10, The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. I may never know this side of eternity how many times my heavenly Father looked the enemy in the eye and said, “that’s it, you are done.” How about that for a beautiful and compelling picture?

 Yes, I am thankful for my father (and mom) who raised me and pointed me to God.

Unfortunately, life has seen fit to send some pretty bitter circumstances my way. I didn’t handle them all with the faith and assurance I should have. Chaos has in fact overwhelmed my life at several different key points. But the reality is, I have far more blessings than I deserve.

And then there is my wife, Becki, one of the greatest blessings I’ll ever know. In fact, following her constant advice to slow down and count my blessings tends to provide a bit of needed equilibrium.

So here I am, still standing. Sometimes battered and bruised, sometimes weaving on my feet. But, I am not alone in the chaos of life. I am not the first nor will I be the last to experience the ping pong ball effect of circumstances and situations outside my control.

If you find yourself there too, count your blessings and remember, God is a strong tower!

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

“Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokeness” is available for pre-order on Amazon”

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